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Mystery assault could hold key to unsolved 1984 murder in East Finchley

 (PA Wire)
(PA Wire)

Detectives investigating the murder of a 45-year-old man almost 40 years ago believe an assault committed two days before could help them solve the case.

Anthony Littler was found with head injuries in an alleyway known as The Causeway, near East Finchley Tube station, north London, at 12.15am on May 1 1984.

Mr Littler, an executive officer at Customs and Excise, was single and lived a short distance from the station.

Despite extensive police inquiries at the time, his murder was never solved.

After a routine re-examination of the case, officers believe a serious assault in the same area two days before could be linked to the murder.

Speaking to the PA news agency at the scene of the crime, Detective Chief Inspector Neil John said Mr Littler was on his way home from a night out when the attack occurred.

“He came through East Finchley Tube station and made his way home on foot through an alleyway,” the detective said.

“Sadly, within a few minutes of him leaving the station, a 999 call was made to emergency services requesting an ambulance and police.

“Upon arrival, the police found Mr Littler’s lifeless body with catastrophic injuries to his head.”

Police believe the victim of the other attack could hold key information.

It's about creating opportunities, looking back at what we've done, what we haven't done, and hopefully finding answers to the fundamental questions of the who, what, where, when, why and how of what happened to Mr Littler

Detective Chief Inspector Neil John

Mr John said a man entered Galleon Wine Store, an off-licence that used to exist near the Tube station, on April 29 1984.

“A man described as 6ft tall, medium build, short brown hair, complained to the shopkeeper that he’d been attacked by two males with baseball bats,” he said.

“He had quite serious injuries to his head and face.”

The man told the shopkeeper he had been attacked the evening before, on April 28.

He was never traced, but police believe he could hold key information for their investigation.

Detectives are also interested in the identity of the person who rang police to tell them about the attack on Mr Littler on May 1.

Mr John said the caller was a male and that he made an anonymous call from a nearby phone box.

He added that police have located one surviving cousin of Mr Littler, who is “very supportive” of the investigation.

Mr John said unsolved murders “never really go away”.

“This matter was reviewed in 1993, 2013, and again now in 2023,” he said.

“It’s about creating opportunities, looking back at what we’ve done, what we haven’t done, and hopefully finding answers to the fundamental questions of the who, what, where, when, why and how of what happened to Mr Littler.”

He said police inquiries had found that Mr Littler “did not have any enemies”.

Mr Littler’s cousin, Tricia McClure, said: “Anthony was a lovely, kind and gentle man who wouldn’t have hurt anyone.

“It is heartbreaking to our family that this happened to him.

“After all this time, we hope this new investigation puts those responsible behind bars. It won’t bring Anthony back, but it will give us some closure.”

Anyone with information should contact 0208 358 0100 or call independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.